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Daily Bread for 11.16.23: Managing Pronunciations as Generational Independence

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 62. Sunrise is 6:48 and sunset 4:30 for 9h 41m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 11.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM

  On this day in 1990, Pop group Milli Vanilli are stripped of their Grammy Award because the duo did not sing at all on the Girl You Know It’s True album. Session musicians had provided all the vocals.


This post about pronunciation isn’t about pronunciation. This post about zoning isn’t about zoning.

It’s about generational independence.

Here’s the background. Some years ago, in 2016, the City of Whitewater adopted a new zoning designation, R-O. It was an overlay designation, and its effect wherever imposed was to reduce by one the number of unrelated adults who could live together in a single family residence. See City of Whitewater Municipal Code Section 19.25.030.  (“In all nonfamily residential overlay districts, the nonfamily household limitation set forth in Whitewater Municipal Ordinance Section 19.15.010 is reduced from three to two. Therefore, in any nonfamily residential overlay district, a nonfamily household shall be limited to two unrelated persons.”)

The zoning changes of the mid-teens in Whitewater came with, as one can imagine, all sorts of particular preoccupations. City officials at the time made much (way too much) of reminding everyone how to pronounce the R-O district (‘overlay, overlay, overlay’). They said this as though repeating the ‘proper’ pronunciation of the designation R-O (as Ō , the fifteenth letter of the English alphabet) meant as much as the limitations on residency themselves. 

How fortunate that better times have now arrived. 

At the 11.7.23 session of the Whitewater Common Council, beginning at 6:12 on the recording of the meeting, there was a general informational update about the designation that alternated between use of R-O (oh) and R-0 (as zero). Whitewater’s Zoning and Code Enforcement Administrator shifted between the two pronunciations in response to a question, without breaking her stride.

Good for her. Smoothly and well done. 

The brief presentation was useful twice over: it was both informative and free of any particular obsession on trivial particulars that once gripped too many in this government. 

And now, and now, one arrives at the deeper meaning of this brief discussion. Residents have doubtless heard a few aged men insist that there is a certain ‘way we talk around here’ and a certain ‘way we do business around here.’ 

No, and no again. 

It’s a city of 14,889, not a half-dozen. It’s a city of many, not a few. 

No small number, enveloped in self-regard, decides for these many. New officials, new residents, a new generation: they’re free to call all of this what they want.

Tomato, tomahto, and all that. 

This libertarian blogger, happily residing in the House of Dissenting Opinion, finds new variations from new leaders welcome. Sometimes (as in this case), it’s simply delightful. One looks away but for a moment only to see something new upon restoring one’s gaze. 

My late father would sometimes remind: a house is not a museum. Neither is a city: this community is meant to change, to evolve, in spontaneous and dynamic ways. 

Whitewater’s extends beyond a tired few. The city is much more than that, and those who think otherwise are risibly wrong. 

We’re all — fortunately, blessedly, happily — ordinary people in a beautiful town of thousands. Variations, alterations, and improvisations from among those many are most welcome.  


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6 months ago

Odes to Obsolescence: The Changing Tides in Whitewater’s Realm

Oh, Whitewater, you quaint theatre of absurdities, where once the landlords, lobbyists and jesters, those self-appointed monarchs of minutiae, reigned supreme! How they relished in the echoes of their own voices, basking in the fading glow of a bygone era, fervently hoping none dare recall the reality of those ‘glory’ days.

But lo! The winds of change gust through our streets, heralding a new brigade. These fresh faces, armed with purpose and an appetite for action, scoff at the trivial pursuits that once enthralled their predecessors. No longer do they quibble over the tedious semantics of R-Os and overlays; they stride forth, eyes set on horizons of knowledge and progress.

Gone soon will be the days when the council chambers buzzed with the droning of the old guard, those soon-to-be ex-presidents of yesteryear, who mistook the council seats for thrones of eternal relevance. In their place, a vibrant new wave of talent emerges, undistracted by the petty distractions that still consums the elite.

They speak, not to hear their own voices echo against the walls of the chamber, but to educate, to illuminate, to invigorate. From my years in this town, it’s a welcome sight to see. Whitewater, watch as your new champions rise, unfettered by the shackles of the past, soaring towards a future bright with promise and devoid of yesterday’s follies.

Change sweeps Whitewater,
Old guard fades, new voices rise,
Dawn breaks, shadows flee.